Thursday, April 27, 2017
"[T]he justices were not especially sympathetic to the plight of Divna Maslenjak. The 53-year-old came to the United States as a refugee in 2000, fleeing ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia. Maslenjak became a U.S. citizen seven years later, but last fall she was deported to Serbia. U.S. immigration officials stripped her of her citizenship after she admitted that she had lied about her husband’s service in the Bosnian Serb military, but the justices seem likely to give her another shot at keeping it. Although they may not have been fans of Maslenjak personally, though, the justices were even less enthusiastic about the prospect of ruling for the government, expressing concern that such a ruling would give U.S. officials boundless discretion to take away citizenship based on even very minor lies." (emphasis added).
Adam Liptak offers a similar analysis of the Justices' reaction to the U./S. government's position.
Here is the transcript to the argument. Both sides were peppered with questions. Chief Justice Roberts seemed especially concerned with the U.S. government's position that the U.S. government might seek denaturalization of a citizen for virtually any misstatement on a naturalization petition (even one pertaining to speeding). The petitions ask extremely broad questions, including things like "have you EVER committed any crime for which you were NOT arrested?" His hypothetical to the U.S. government was whether the U.S. government could seek denaturalization for failure to disclose a speeding violation, which the naturalization petition would seem to call for even if the immigrant had not been cited or arrested for the offense. Justice Sotomayor wondered whether a failure to disclose embarrassing nicknames might result in the same; the petition asks for other names used by the immigrant seeking naturalization.
Stay tuned. We should have a decision by the end of June.